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tv   Book TV After Words  CSPAN  November 19, 2012 12:00am-1:00am EST

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voting rights act, the summer race riots and the deployment to vietnam. he discusses the year with the word university modern history professor scott. ..
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>> they like to talk about the 20s our the '90s and sometimes it works. in the thirties you can do that but mostly it does not work or the 60 is. if you look back to the early '60s through 64 or the kennedy assassination, so much of daily life and popular culture, politics the way people dress seem like the '50s. with the '60s we think
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turmoil, urban riots riots, vietnam, rock concert its in dae became convinced of you should not talk about them where the sixties start which is what i have done. >> did you feel your world change around do? >> a little bit. i started teaching 1964 and i was very busy preparing courses. we have assigned december 1964. i was not paying a lot of attention to what was going on but was impossible on a
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university campus not to be aware of those that were developing a. well not particularly severe they became that way in a couple of years and in march of 1965 arrival of indiana students begin to dress differently, much more concern of vietnam. >> host: when you saw the change take place before your eyes when did you think of the '60s as history? >> not until the '80s and
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'90s. i am pretty sure not until the '80s a significant portion of my course syllabus which was 20th century history included a significant reading this on the 60 is. maybe that is one answer. >> host: i am fascinated on books over one year. that is pretty much what we want to do. so we have had this decade but it is a close-up on the world of america's society
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how do we get to 21965 to better understand how much change in place? >> guest: how many books there are on individual years in the '60s bride mentioned the is in my preface. somebody said 1968. that was huge. tet offensive, johnson resigning, and the assassination of martin mr. king, bobby kennedy the wild convention in chicago, woodstock and that sort of thing. it is by no means unique
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that makes pretty much the same argument that i do i don't have a huge coral with that. in terms of world shattering memorable events then it began to vanish from a view in a hurry. there are real reasons you asked me that but it is why. >> i agree the central year and we could talk about the '60s two talked-about
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transforming america to say america is not the same after 1965? there is something at stake that 65 bid is meaningful and there is a way one could argue it is not but to have the watershed year is that correct? >> pretty much. not to take it too far but to something starts on january 1st then it is all done to see a lot of things
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happening in 1965 like the women's movement. you do have the beginnings of it the feminine mystique publish 1963 but but now zero and tell later the same thing is true with television shows and movies. not until 1967 you hear the graduate nor bonnie and clyde nortel the early '70s with all of the family. television is much more in line with those like bonanza and "gilligan's island" and that does not change. uc changes of popular music
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but the two big changes are the civil-rights movement in has everlasting defects. >> host: your suggesting be engines of change are the civil-rights movement taking place and the board itself so you understand a cultural transformation. to understand the black power movement you understand the culture within the white community. and ultimately the cultural wars that begin the 1965.
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all of the political strife we have had for reference some of the big players with the civil-rights movement and the lbj administration of. with the great society itself. so in a sense co2 argue less and then got in trouble 2008 to but so let's talk about that. >> absolutely. if there was a movie of the book he would be the star. he takes over after the
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assassination november 63. 64 he is getting organized preparing a run for the election on his own and he does. and then he wins a huge margin of victory and then gets a huge large democratic majority in congress. some people like in him like a plummeted and they had a whole year plus 3914 months for what he would do after the election of 64 and he
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jumps then with a great society program because of special committees poverty, welfare, the of the task force is. and the congress of 1965 started, the hugest inauguration ever and it hits the ground running in a big way. with the serious was speeches and proposals for medicare, medicaid and elementary and secondary education. the creation of housing and urban development cabinet cabinet, by the way appointed the first black
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cabinet member. with a great society how did -- johnson does it is early in the book. things happen that don't prevent so they do change the politics who ronald reagan will clearly run for governor and beats pat brown who also beat the knicks and. >> so in effect it comes out of nowhere. progressivism with the turmoil of the night of course, we've no the turmoil of the great depression and obamacare comes out of the
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great recession. where in the world does the great society come from? and as a kid seven years old i remember 64 we went around the neighborhood to win the war of 1964. it is my awakening. how it is a sense something important happened but one could not predict the revolution and social policy of the great society. the sheer wealth of america, could you talk about that? >> guest: the economy growing nonstop since 1961 and was absolutely powerful.
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with a steam engine in. i once wrote a book called grand expectations that covers this period. this was the time and johnson was not nothing if not grandiose. not much of a speaker but on top of everything. people contrast did two obama. when you talk about the way johnson managed congress never letting up and on top of things. and wanted to get these
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things done. with the loud and boisterous texan with the opponent of-- responded the civil-rights but by 65 he was a strong liberal. >> so much of what has happened since during the late 20th century just the liberal protest? it is prefaced at some point* how could this be the wealthiest country? as i understand that period if history, it would be a
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throwaway line. even though it was a cliche was the most truthful statement of the period everybody believed america should not be believed because they're filthy rich sets the background. what went wrong? [laughter] the main title was the eve of destruction. whenever scott the book, we play with titles i know what of the '60s songs but that is not what i remember. what does the the of destruction mean to you? >> guest: i have to a bit
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to visit the oppression -- impression by early 66 that 65 when this happened but to do that the things that we were talking about with this incredible outpouring of legislation medicare, medicaid, reform of a racist immigration law back to the 1920's and the voting rights act that too many people thought including johnson they thought would start another huge filibuster. more money for the war on
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poverty and duration of the national endowments of the arts and i could go on that is the first time the federal government put money and for general education. mini has been on the dock it for years. and the much broader concept. >> you say 1965 that the the destruction? i am a conservative but 1965 looks like destruction and its self. itself phyllis 1964 but this is the world going to hell in a handbasket. [laughter]
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but you almost assume the shared -- . >> guest: you have a good point*. >> host: 65 is destruction. this is the great society and if his voting rights act and now we have a federal government in the american south to get involved in the elections of course, some would have said 1965 it was not that big of a deal. role areas or not that important anymore. had this not been done the arc of change was such the blacks would have their voting rights.
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65 itself is a great imposition of a liberal state. it is destruction. but i can see my progressive friends saying that even of destruction? this is the eve of creation. that each of a new world eventually you have more rights. yes, sir, is the rights revolution blacks, women and finally get rid of the race-based immigration laws that will really transform america to put together the coalition renown know that includes the multi-cultural politics. all we have to do is have the vietnam war to make it work. >> guest: i start to look at people like newt gingrich whose survey a conservative
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and they both saw 1965 looking back they call it the hinge of the 20th century which is my early chapter. this is looked back upon at the time by conservatives as the end of the world. >> host: you cannot understand the revolution without 1965. it was about undoing the great society and the relative success that leads people to go back to run two other programs but it does seem to be what does the title mean to you? >> the relative calm and widespread optimism and high expectations but by the end
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of the year are much weaker. and will never again reach that stage. while fighting the national christmas tree can i read a little bit of that? and what he says seems implausible even though it is bombast. >> these are the most hopeful times when christ was born in bethlehem. today that capacity to end war and preserve peace to
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eradicate poverty, and sheer abundance to overcome the diseases reflected the shifted to the human race and for all mankind to enjoy their promise in life as on earth. he believed that is the case and others echoed the notion and "time" magazine had a special issue entitled on the verge of a golden era. in january we renown supposedly engaged in combat in be a number of 1965 we passed the civil-rights act was the single most imperative -- important act in history. >> host: i disagree.
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but go-ahead. >> guest: then the war on poverty 1964. is seems if you are a liberal and aware of all the problems and here you will do with the. this is terribly important. to go about their daily lives but the country, the government could pay for the programs. >> and to some extensive they come out then you have to do something. this time you don't have to but to be on the agenda of liberals for a long time.
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they are not destroyed that is the eve of destruction doesn't fit that part. what makes the title useful is what happens with the civil-rights movement of american foreign policy. >> host: that the destruction is as a result of what it lbj did i a admire how you unfold the story. but it is important to understand make it clear to the degree that 1965 had johnson handled the war differently that maybe things would have been different. talk about that.
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>> it is not as awful as it now. try to find out what is there a point* where this could be avoided? 1965 was the time they bit the bullet several times and by this summer so heavily involved in in the combat that there was no getting out of it. this is the tragic thing about it coming he knew when he escalated the war united states and south vietnam would win or defeat it or
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invade north vietnam but that is the most they could help four. it was 1965. the nine states has 23,000 troops called military risers. this is about 6,000 more so in the space of a year he increased from 23,000. this was a considerable percentage increase but not a lot of people. the only combat that occurred was the gulf of tonkin crisis in august 1964
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and johnson retaliated by bombing north bid amazement installations but that only lasted two days. then during the campaign he acted as if was a moderate which was easy to do and goldwater was a lock on the issue. so he is inaugurated january 1965. february 7th there is a raid by vietcongs of south vietnam. and he uses this as a pretext to retaliate but
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that bombing starts early 1965. in march in vietnam's s those americans around the airbase need protection and you have to send troops over. johnson sens and submarines that is the beginning of and another huge installation july 1965. you go to the non-combat troops but at the end of the year it is with hundred
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84,000. >> host: was johnson responsible for everything? you get the sense moreland made the bad decision understanding that when they realize the south vietnamese could not stand up on their own they could have made a different decision. . .
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now about how we wage in the domestic and international affairs and foreign affairs. so we now believe that you always have done even at the expense of butter but there was almost an understanding that you could have guns or butter and most people would have wanted the butter if you will. of course was always the strong national defense and we have to point out that wasn't the
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conservatives that got us into this. so there is a way in which everybody was happy in a way that was just milk and butter if he will and johnson invest some guns. he goes off to war. >> i spend a lot of time trying to explain why he did this because as you describe it, it sounds crazy. johnson like kennedy, like eisenhower like truman let's forget about thompson for a minute, from truman, eisenhower and kennedy all three presidents were on record as was a majority of the congress saying that the united states, the head of the free world and what was still a very strong climate of course the bay of pigs happened just a couple years before that in 1962. but the united states had the responsibility to protect the independence of nations from communist aggression and this was south vietnam.
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kennedy had raised troop levels. i won't go into all the things truman and eisenhower did but right along we are very heavily involved in protecting south vietnam and johnson believed that these prior commitments committed him. he also was a strong warrior and he used, and often on how the young people who were protesting simply didn't understand communism because they had never grown up and had to fight world war ii. they didn't know what appeasement was and chamberlain and so forth given to the nazis. the united states must keep its commitment. it was johnson's great misfortune to be president when you had to cut base. kennedy didn't have to do this. >> you are referring to the
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domino theory and everybody described to the domino theory. >> i never felt the domino theory. this is what makes this period in history this was the big flaw thinking they put up a solid ball not just in the united front but your method is just no opposition on these issues. the appeasement is what it would be called as opposed to a strategy to defeat the opposition and the perpetual cold war. i've always understood it does divide and conquer that's how we deal with the opposition so you are saying that even eisenhower had he been in office might have felt compelled at a certain moment to invest more.
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>> clearly there is a likelihood that everyone would have at least felt a tug. >> he very much feared that if he allowed south viet nam to fall to the north they were swallowed up and became part of a communist country that he would suffer the same fate that truman suffered that the united states lost china as of course it had been ours to lose but this was fresh and the memory of someone like johnson who had been in the congress since 1937 and who was the majority leader in the early 50's of course the minority and the majority leader in the senate during the heyday of mccarthyism and he saw with the stick to the democratic
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party. he didn't want it to happen to him so it was a combination of what was good politics but also he believed this was a commitment and he had no toys but to do it. that is what is tragic about this. he had no exit strategy. >> there's a couple things in the book about this point that struck me. i didn't realize that richard russell was really reluctant. he didn't want to go deeper into vietnam's there was support among the people that had impeccable foreign policy and credentials to not go further. so he would have some support, significant support so it was still his decision to make. he could have done something different. now on the other side of this, i am still struck by how johnson was well aware as a master politician that there's a relationship between guns and
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butter to the that even though this is a wealthy nation we cannot run the deficit of a certain. we still have to move forward with an economic footing and that was going to have confidence is for the domestic program so even johnson and the most liberal of any administration was very clear on this that you just could not spend the limit -- limitlessly. >> it didn't affect spending that much in 1965. i want to maintain that 1965 was the worst year in the war. not all that many americans actually died in 1965 and as i say it went from 23,000 to
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184,000 up to 400,000 in 1966 which was a terrible year and up to 550,000 at the time johnson left office in early 1969 and even that isn't enough to win the war. >> was also strikes me as interesting is that we think of the war opposition as astute and there is a way that if there is no war there is no opposite which there is no student movement there is no opposition but what is also streaking in your book is how there is a kind of opposition to the war among the chattering class is people in business. this for michaud and opposition from the astana lament from the very beginning. >> i don't make much of that. there are a lot of professors in the teaching movement of having
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been on the college and as i can attest to that is striking about 65 how you ask the question to show support for johnson and it's not until it really becomes to 66 in terms of what was going on in vietnam and on to the federal budget. this was much more consequential than it was in 1965 but that's where it all starts and once you are in there it just gets deeper. you just can't get out of it. after that, nothing is the same. >> lbj's and in control of everything. every president learns that there are limits to power. people don't just do what you want them to do.
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so there is so much that is going on in this society even before the war. now you have to channels in which this is taking place. the society is sitting in the middle of the war and on the other side there is the movement that you spend much time talking about and the other side is the response of the students to the war and 65 is this year. there is a way in which you look at what happens early in the year malcolm x is assassinated. and then of course what we haven't mentioned yet is how you interpret the event. so here these big developments that are taking place, and in your mind you think it is the most equal weight if you will to the unfolding of the 60's with what is going on in the civil
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rights and the way that you almost set this up almost a consensus historian tape on the civil rights movement. if i were a southern white i would say that the eve of the destruction was either 54, 57 or 64. it certainly wasn't when it comes to civil rights 55. so there is a worry that that maybe their perspective. let's talk about that for the second. as a kind of a criticism people assume that we are all on board with civil rights and 64 or at least it can be managed. >> i say 64 as i mentioned before as a year of enormous strides and civil rights movement, and i wrote a book on brown v. board we mentioned in
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1954. as you know, as everybody knows this was supposed to bring about an end to racial segregation in the public schools. in 1964 no black kids are going to school even in the board themselves so in ten years none of the supreme court decision had an effect. what has in effect is all of the civil rights activism of the earlier 60's and here you mentioned 57 there's the little rock crisis and there is the citizens in 62 to 63 in the birmingham and so forth. so this activism on the streets was necessary as was brown v. board. so we move these two things together from the bottom-up and from the top down then you get
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this powerful civil rights act passed in 64. there was neither to be done for instance, but i would say yes this is my take on it and we do have a lot of problems in 64 going to freedom summer for example in mississippi. things are getting a really nasty. nobody can read this book and concluded there wasn't a balance going on in 64. but there was definitely the sense of that we are really making progress, and then on the very first day of the year martin luther king opens up his drive in selma and that takes up a good chapter early in the book and most people know the story
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when they beat up people and putting john lewis and send people to the hospital and so one and he goes on tv and says we shall overcome and comes up with a voting rights act that passes and that's even more important than that act. however during the course of the selwa thing the sports that already existed in the civil rights movement which should be regarded as movements were already there and the nonviolent coordinating committee which had already been working for voting rights resembled martin luther king coming in there and wouldn't work for him for the most part but there's virtually no meeting of the - and the southern christian leadership
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conference on the others and you begin to see the split within the civil rights movement that is pretty irreparable. >> let me play the devil's of a ticket on this. there are a lot of people who talk about the black freedom movement and they see the movement whether they see it in terms of civil rights or civil rights and black power to say social and political influence in society. they see it as something that has the goal. others might say okay you're right by that time we have the civil rights and voting rights. let's move on. not everybody will be happy that there's something happening. in other words i don't necessarily think the split in the civil rights movement is inherently important. it still needs the voting rights act. it's not inherently important in terms of the division in sncc.
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the black world changes in a way that we know in 64 there are riots in philadelphia, there is a riot in harlem and they seem to mean something but what is different? and so, it's not even the sheer violence of it i think a lot of it has to do -- i think people are more shocked by their right in california, paray yet in l.a.. tell us about that. how does it really change the black movement or just the way that people proceed? >> what does it do to the black community and white liberalism? what happens? >> the white liberalism what it does is they were shoulder to shoulder with blacks in the
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south and some of them have killed and after a while it is a setback. they are not non-violent people, they are hoodlums. they were burn baby burn. they were fighting the police and burning buildings and so, this sort of makes people cautious. they are not really sure what is happening here and they don't like what they see. i'm not saying that they give up on the freedom struggle. johnson doesn't give up on the freedom struggle and he continues to try to get legislation after this and he is staggered by this, how could this happen? he's done more than anybody by far, and he was just really shaken by this. but even johnson realized this
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enormously powerful speech at harvard university where he teach at the convention in june written by daniel moynihan, the speech in which he basically calls of the affirmative action in terms of the social policy not in terms of the university of michigan the have a special means and special policies we can't be colorblind about this and he says you are going to call a great big white house conference. >> everything gets reinterpreted johnson wasn't a motive. they are not pure in the eyes of even the leadership of the black community and of course then of course malcolm x died in february but the years to malcolm x. they don't seem to get traction until what? he makes everyone rethink everything. makes some people think that there is a black revolution that
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is when to overthrow the united states government. it gets people thinking so in my mind there is a way that i could say 65 is important. there is a lot going on in the society. there is a vietnam war and that is important but the destruction really starts in two places. in the other place we have not mentioned yet is the students for the space society and how they are transformed by the war. you make a pretty good case that until the escalation it's a small-time operation. >> guest: it's not even at the end of 65 but we only have a few minutes left let's play this and be more provocative in a way. if they had been a professional
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military no draft in 1963 would this have taken place? >> that is the very reason that we ended the draft and that we have a professional army. you do not want the citizenry to decide what you should fight because he might mobilize the opposition to. so let me ask you and 63 had we had a professional army would it have been different? what the 60's have happened? >> guest: let's assume that once the vietnam starts we still don't have a draft. but, obviously what you are saying you can't ignore it or what would have been different because sds many of its leaders
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had a radical notion of the country they were not as opposed to the vietnam war iraq as of 65 and in 64 they were divided about what they want to do and many of them still thought we should bring about poverty first read 65 is pretty much the antiwar organization but a lot of people are anti-war mac on radicals and said this is a bad of war and we don't want to be drafted. but, the radical really had a notion that the fact that the united states was in this war and so many others was a sign of the greed of couple was some and other sorts of inequalities that existed in the country and we have to fundamentally reshape the nature of the country, but not many people bought into that most were opposed to the war and
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it didn't want to get drafted so the counterfactual question makes you think. >> it would have been hard to imagine where they would have gotten them in the booming company, but again we do have an urban crisis and so perhaps there were more people around who might have been susceptible to enticement. they were susceptible in the 1970's when the economy wasn't going well so maybe they could have been carried i don't know if they could have been as quickly but maybe. but clearly the war opposition was based largely on the draft. do you accept that proposition that without that draft sds may have had the leadership that was concerned by some issues but the kind of following they seemed to
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have had for several years was a just tied to people's immediate self-interest? >> it seems overwhelmingly entire war. some of the people john lewis for instance and others, james farmer, the head of course, martin luther king, they were opposed to all of the war and opposed to violence so they were really consistent. it wasn't just vietnam but this was a bad war. >> there is a transformation that we talked about earlier that takes place and that is the hardest transition that i have to find that i know that by 66 or 67 certain things are going to happen with music. we know it's going to happen but the change does seem to take
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place by the end of 65 in other words is it the war? is the escalation that leads to require some eve of destruction? do you think it is more driven? in other words is the escalation? >> guest: you're right it was that song, and talked about selma and racism and nuclear weapons and it talked about vietnam and is a live sound track with guns booming off and it had a parade in september of 1965 that stated to be a popular song throughout the year and was one of the very first songs which was both antiwar and popular and if you listen to it, it's hard to see why.
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it has kind of a nice easy beat and its words are strong and its assertive about our whole crazy world coming apart and it disappeared with a lot of young people. >> host: it seems like the cultural transformation is as rapid as the escalation of the war. it's amazing and it's true that music changes somewhere between 64 to 66 within that time period it changes. it seems to be related to both the change in the civil rights movement to a black power movement a change from if you will falk music to rock-and-roll tied to any notion of the
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commotion of the social context and changing to an electro sound so you see it there and it happens with the war said there is a way that i am willing to concede that if i had to choose one year to say was the most pivotal year in the 1960's, and i dare say i think you make the case you don't really want to make the case but for the broad political structure of the politics democrat versus republican all coming out of the great response to the society see make a good case. >> guest: i want to say one other thing about the music. it's nice if everything ryan's up nicely for a historian to make an argument that the very time, you have the destruction becoming a popular song you have an early 66 the balance of the green berets which is a strong
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pro war song based upon the book which came out as a very popular book in 65, so i'm trying to make this argument in the changing drastically the there's all these exceptions and its ambivalence and division. >> host: we have run out of time but i would like to talk about the relationship, the similarities so we don't have time for that so i will get out of this. thanks a lot. it is a very interesting book and it grabs the reader. i think it is given where we are with obamacare and other liberal students if you will it seems to be shift taking. >> kimmage authors of the latest nonfiction books are interviewed by journalists, public policy
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